Team of young coworkers working together at night office.Young woman using mobile laptop at the table, workaholic

One common blocker for my clients to move on in their career and gain further seniority is that they try to operate on their own. They haven’t built their reputation internally and haven’t worked with other teams within the business.

With increased seniority, there is certainly greater responsibility and decision-making power. With this greater responsibility, there is also a greater degree of interdependency, which is not about asking for help because you don’t know what to do (although being able to ask for help is important), it’s about being strategic and working collaboratively to achieve a better outcome. Without good, active interdependency, people can become overwhelmed, resentful and the workplace culture can be very negative with a lack of idea sharing and collaborative problem solving, ultimately contributing to decreased company/firm performance.

Why interdependency increases

  • There are fewer roles the more senior you become so it is down to you to engage with other department heads to share best practice, make leadership decisions and discuss cross-selling/working possibilities where relevant.
  • If you are not seen by more junior team members to have strong relationships across the business, this can impact how your, and the overall, leadership of the company or firm is viewed.
  • You may need additional resource at some point and the quickest and most viable solution may be another team in the organisation.
  • You are more visible as an individual the more senior you become which is helpful for your career, assuming you have built the relationships positively. You become even more reliant on a smaller number of people to play their part in making sure you have the right opportunities.
  • There is a less linear approach the more senior you become, the work you do and the proposals you put forward are more likely to be reviewed by the most senior people in the organisation, rather than just your immediate boss.

The positive side to interdependency is, when people are willing to engage more with others and ask for input when required, others will too. Good interdependency is not to be viewed as showing weakness, it creates a more honest and open culture where the best solutions are found as a greater variety of input is considered. Overall, companies and firms perform better when these attributes are present in the working culture.

Steps to take to improve your interdependency

  1. Be honest with yourself, do you often try and progress projects/solve issues without the input of colleagues who could provide valuable help and insight? Could this be holding back your career? If this is a challenge for you, identify when you do this, why and how you could start asking for others’ input and insight.
  2. Are there areas where you are currently overreaching and treading on someone’s toes? If so, what is behind that? You think you can do better? What could be the benefit to you and others to stepping back and focusing on what you really need to?
  3. Consider what business benefits there could be by working more closely with others. This could be related to internal ways of working or cross-selling opportunities. For instance if you are a Private Client Tax Partner in an accountancy firm, which other partners could you get to know better to look at how you could service one another’s clients? Relationships need to be built for this to actually happen. No Partner will refer their valuable client to someone else in their own firm if they don’t know them and trust them enough to look after the client.
  4. Which people of your own level and above do you tend to avoid because of something that happened in the past? Has the time now come to let that go and give those relationships another chance? If you’re stuck in a negative cycle, what can you do to break it?

We are all busy in our roles and under a lot of pressure to get things done and done right. Often the way to do that is to build your relationships and realise that interdependency is important.  Make sure you are working collaboratively across the organisation and engaging effectively with, not only others at the same seniority as you, but with those more and less senior than you too. This will bring about the best outcomes for your career and your company or firm – a win-win situation.

Building positive professional relationships is a key part of career progression. To read more, click here to request my Nine Skills needed for career success.

About the author

Joanna GaudoinJoanna Gaudoin, Inside Out Image specialises in helping ambitious professionals and their organisations improve performance and achieve their goals.

She does this by helping them master and strategically use the business skills of Personal Impact and Relationship Management. These skills are required for professional success.

Before establishing Inside Out Image, Joanna worked in marketing and consultancy in large corporates. She understands the business world and its challenges. She now helps organisations and individuals understand how to succeed in it.

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